Methodists/Communion to non-believers

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Question
Good afternoon, sir, and Happy Easter!

My question is a follow-up to your response from 11/4/2010; "Wesley on the Lord's Supper."

You defined "Converting Ordinance (at least I this is what it is called)" vs. "Confirming Ordinance." Please provide scripture that supports Mr. Wesley's view on Converting Ordinance. I'm no scholar, but not only do I not see anything to support this, what I do read in 1 Corinthians 11 makes me pause when it comes to the proper condition of the heart of he or she who partakes of the elements.

Respectfully,
Doug

Answer
Dear Doug,

I don't believe that John Wesley had any direct Biblical justification for his assertion that Communion could be a "Converting Ordinance."  I could be wrong in this, and I haven't done a search of Wesley's sermons and other writings on the subject.  However, I believe that his conclusion on this subject was rooted in Christian experience -- on the part of himself and of others in seeing how people, who had been prepared by God's grace in its previence, come to the Table of the Lord and, in partaking of the elements, come to faith in Jesus Christ.  In those instances I would say that their hearts are definitely in the "right place" -- open and receptive to discerning the Body of Christ ... the real Presence of Jesus.

I would affirm that such isn't normal ... the normal condition for those coming to the Table is that of already being a believer, a member of the Body of Christ.

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Rev. Gregory S. Neal

Expertise

I can answer questions dealing with all issues of United Methodist Doctrine and Wesleyan-Arminian Theology. In particular I can answer questions dealing with the Sacraments and other liturgical and worship-oriented questions. I can also answer questions dealing with the form, structure, and organization of the United Methodist Church and our relationship with other denominations.

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I am an ordained United Methodist Elder with more than 20 years of ministerial service experience in the local Church.

Organizations
I am a Clergy Member in Full Connection and have been a member of the North Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church since 1991. I am a member of the Society of Biblical Literature and the American Academy of Religion. I am also a member of the Emmaus Community, and am currently serving as Senior Spiritual Director for the Dallas Emmaus Community. I am a member of the Order of Saint Luke in the United Methodist Church.

Publications
I have my own website: www.RevNeal.org.   I have written two books, "Grace Upon Grace" and "Seeking the Shepherd's Arms," both available at Amazon.com and in bookstores.

Education/Credentials
I have a BA in Religious Studies, History and Russian. I have an M.Div in Systematic Theology and Biblical Studies and a Ph.D in Sacramental Theology and New Testament.

Awards and Honors
Ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church
Fellow of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist

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